Wellbutrin to Quit Smoking
Taking Wellbutrin to quit smoking is one off-label use of the medication. There are a couple of reasons why a healthcare provider may prescribe the drug for this purpose. These products can be more affordable than Zyban (a similar medication that is approved to help people quit smoking). Also, many insurance companies do not cover Zyban, but will cover Wellbutrin.
Bupropion is a prescription medication licensed for several uses, including treating depression, treating seasonal affective disorder, and helping with smoking cessation. However, not all forms of the medicine are approved for smoking cessation. Some of the different forms of bupropion include:
- Wellbutrin® (bupropion hydrochloride), a short-acting version (taken two to four times per day), approved to treat depression
- Wellbutrin SR® (bupropion SR), a long-acting form (usually taken twice daily), approved to treat depression
- Wellbutrin XL® (bupropion XL), the longest-acting form (taken once daily), approved to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder
- Zyban® (bupropion SR), a long-acting form (usually taken twice daily), approved to help with smoking cessation.
Although the Wellbutrin products are not approved to help people quit smoking, they are often used "off-label" for this purpose, primarily for two reasons. First, generic Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin SR were available before generic Zyban, making Wellbutrin more affordable. Second, many insurance companies will not cover Zyban (or other smoking cessation products), but will cover Wellbutrin.
Of the three Wellbutrin products, Wellbutrin SR is the most similar to Zyban, being chemically identical to it. Both drugs are sustained-release products that are usually taken twice a day. Wellbutrin SR is available in the same strength as Zyban. They are even made by the same company. The only difference is that they are approved for different uses.
If you are taking Wellbutrin SR off-label to help quit smoking, it is important to remember that most of the information you receive from your pharmacy or other sources may focus on depression. Be sure to refer to the Zyban information for advice that focuses specifically on smoking cessation.